The three candidates challenging for the Republican nomination to represent District 3 on the Lake County Board bring varying levels of experience and perspectives.
Jim Newton, 49, of Lindenhurst, last March ended a long career as a reporter for a Waukegan newspaper, including a decade covering county government, to accept an appointment to the seat left open when Suzi Schmidt left for the state Senate.
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Though an incumbent, Newton is making his first run for public office. He said he has "zero learning curve" because of his familiarity with the workings of county government. Continued fiscal responsibility is his top issue.
James Creighton Mitchell Jr., 68, also of Lindenhurst, is nearing retirement as a water plant operator and has past and present experience in public office.
He is secretary of the Lake Villa District Library board, where he previously served for 12 years and is on the Lake County Regional Board of School Trustees. He was twice appointed in the 1980s to fill spots on the county board, ran for Congress in 2006 and for U.S. President in 2008.
Mitchell said that wide political experience and having time available are his reasons for seeking the spot.
Tom Weber, 45, of Lake Villa, a self-employed contractor, is making his first attempt at elected office. He is running as an advocate for small businesses, who he says need representation on the county board.
Weber is founder of the Patriot Foundation, a not-for-profit group that distributes copies of the U.S. Constitution. He describes himself as a "small government constitutionalist."
"I feel as if government has to start contracting," he said. "I may not be an expert on the county board but I'm an expert on doing the hard thing."
The winner of the March 20 primary will face Democrat Dale Kehr, a trainer from Lindenhurst.
Newton says the county is committed to providing needed services at the most affordable cost and being vigilant on finances. He said many positions have been reduced and other decisions made, noting the budget is $17 million less than three years ago.
"I believe that in the past few years, the county has made significant cuts to the extent it can," he said.
He said he was approached by state and county officials to seek the appointment.
"I'm an independent thinker, although I'm part of the Republican majority," he said.
Mitchell listed two items involving the forest preserve district as top campaign issues: identifying sites and making them available for community garden plots; and, building hydroponic gardening facilities that would use recycled effluent from sewage treatment plants. Doing that would could create jobs and supplement food banks with fresh produce.
He also suggested the county board job isn't a full-time job and there should be no salary or benefits.
Improving the business environment was a priority for Weber.
As an example, he suggested easing some of the regulations and red tape for new businesses, such as giving them a longer time to comply when upgrades to a building are needed.
Weber also claims communications with constituents has decreased noticeably since Schmidt left. He said he would continue to regularly attend various local meetings throughout the district and is compiling a list of homeowner organizations.
"I will be the people's advocate," he said.
District 3 covers Lindenhurst and Round Lake Heights and portions of Lake Villa and Round Lake Beach.